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Opposition to Charter Schools is Growing in Oxford School District

By Sandra Knispel | Published 22 Jan 2013 10:39pm | comments
Parents, Oxford School Board members and school administrators listen to Nancy Loome, executive director of the Mississippi Parents’ Campaign, talk about possible pitfalls of charter schools.

The state Senate may vote this week on whether to allow charter schools in Mississippi -- after the House already passed the bill. But, as MPB’s Sandra Knispel reports, resistance is growing in some school districts, among them Oxford.

Anyone who’s ever tried to get parents to a PTA meeting on a weekend knows how near impossible a task it is. But this past Saturday afternoon, about twenty parents, school administrators and members of the Oxford School Board came to the Powerhouse to hear Nancy Loome, executive director of the Mississippi Parents’ Campaign, speak about proposed charter schools for Mississippi.

“It’s important for the citizens of Mississippi to let their voices be heard," Loome said. "Because if we don’t speak up we are allowing the lobbyists for these for-profit groups to write this legislation instead.”

The Parents’ Campaign is a Mississippi non-profit organization working to strengthen the state’s public schools.

“We believe it’s very, very important to close the loophole that allows non-profit charter schools to funnel money to for-profit corporations that manage those charter schools. Both the school and the management organization should be non-profit," Loome said.

Listening in the audience was Merrill Nordstrom, a local attorney and mother of two children in the Oxford School District. She worries that a high-performing district like Oxford may be attractive to charter schools for all the wrong reasons.

"First of all, our school district does very well. We have more money than other school districts, based on our local tax rate… and our property values are so high – we make a lot more money. And for that reason I worry about these for-profit charter school businesses trying to come into our school district and take over."

If the charter school bill became law it would be up to school boards to decide whether to allow them into their districts. Buddy Chain is the past president of the Oxford School Board.

“I don’t think that charter schools are a solution to our problems. Adequate funding for the regular program is what we need to do and where we need to go.”

According to the Mississippi Parents Campaign, for each student who left the Oxford school district to go to a charter school roughly $9,800 would be lost to the district, likely causing a funding gap for public schools.

Sandra Knispel, MPB News, Oxford



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